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Hong Kong scraps remaining Covid curbs

The bubbles are back in Cathay lounges as Hong Kong rolls back its travel restrictions.

It’s a case of going, going, gone for Hong Kong’s last remaining Covid restrictions ahead of China reopening its borders next month.

Hong Kong chief executive John Lee announced yesterday that as of today, vaccine passes will be axed, PCR tests on arrival will be dropped, close contacts will no longer need to isolate and social distancing and group gathering rules will be abolished.

Relaxation of Covid rules

The relaxation has come much sooner than expected owing to China’s sudden volte face with regards its own pandemic policies. As the border walls tumble down, mainland authorities will start issuing visas for Hong Kong entry from January 8. Covid quarantine in China will be dropped from the same date and local authorities in China will also reportedly lose the right to lock down entire communities from next month. Searches for Hong Kong flights to mainland China reportedly surged by 500% in 30 minutes on Monday.

However, despite the axing of the majority of restrictions, Lee says the mask mandate will remain in place. It is obligatory to wear a face mask in Hong Kong in both indoor and outdoor settings. Arrivals will also need to present a negative PCR or rapid antigen (lateral flow) test taken within 48 hours of travel. The arrival and day three PCR test will be dropped, but the government is still ‘recommending’ arrivals take rapid antigen tests for the first five days. Anyone who tests positive in Hong Kong must still undergo five days of isolation and can only be released after showing two negative rapid antigen tests.

Macau rolls back restrictions

Macau has also rolled back its entry restrictions. International arrivals, including from Hong Kong, will no longer have to take an arrival test and can move around the city freely. However, travellers will need to present a negative nucleic acid test certificate. The ‘Golden Bus’ service linking Hong Kong and Macau has resumed services. It stopped operating in April 2020.

Hong Kong recorded 17,636 cases of Covid on December 27 with some hospitals reporting A&E wait times of more than eight hours.

Read more about Hong Kong's reopening

Hong Kong caught in China's Covid tailwind as direct flights banned.

It's been a long time between flights, but BA has restarted its Hong Kong service.

The flying kangaroo will be back in the Asian hub from January.

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